SEATTLE — In 2015, the United Nations (U.N.) and 193 countries agreed to tackle 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)— issues they found most relevant to the future of an integrated world. As work on tackling those issues is underway, the UN is seeking to understand how a collaborative, socially-conscious global media could better-involve the public in reaching these goals. The result? A pro bono campaign for advertising the SDGs, one of the largest in media history.
The pro bono campaign is being led by six of the largest advertising firms in the world: WPP PLC, Havas SA, Dentsu Inc., Omnicom Group Inc., Publicis Group SA and Interpublic Group of Cos. called “Common Ground.” The campaign has taken the suggestion of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to put the power of creative industries to work in addressing global issues. The advertising groups have set aside rivalry to collaborate on a project of unprecedented scale.
Much of the inspiration for media which assumes the mission of creating positive change has been derived from the 2014-2016 Media for Social Impact summits, hosted by PBVLIC Foundation at the New York UN headquarters. These summits seek to honor examples of media work, which have social impact, as well as to provide a platform for identifying new ways for media to produce positive change.
Using media to promote the Sustainable Development Goals is an effort that has been promoted by a variety of groups and leaders. The work of filmmaker Richard Curtis has resulted in his founding of Project Everyone as well as the Global Goals Campaign. Project Everyone seeks to reach as many people as possible with the message of what the Sustainable Development Goals are and about ways to become involved.
The Global Goals campaign is one avenue by which Curtis and Project Everyone have been working to spread their message. Ultimately, the project and the campaign seek to use every available outlet, with emphasis on radio and online media, to reach as much of the global population as possible.
“The big sort of motto behind this is that you can’t fight for your rights if you don’t know what they are,” Curtis said. “This is a sort of statement of planetary rights. And we want people to know what they are so they can then demand them of their leaders.”
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals address three overarching objectives: ending global poverty, combating injustice and inequality, and addressing climate change. Within these three areas of change, goals range from quality education to sustainable cities and communities.
The pro bono collaboration is set to include an advertising campaign utilizing donated advertising space, followed by a year of work in which each of the six advertising groups will focus on a specific area of the Sustainable Development Goals. Development Funds will also be provided for achieving other ideas and work.
The Common Ground campaign demonstrates the potential of collaborative creativity. In doing so, it encompasses the 17th Sustainable Development Goal itself: creating global partnerships for sustainable development.
– Charlotte Bellomy